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Burston sent mocking texts to James Ashby

Former senator Brian Burston has denied his thread of unanswered text messages to One Nation staffer James Ashby was “harassment” but admits to goading his old colleague.

Mr Burston is suing Senator Pauline Hanson over what he says are claims of sexual harassment made against him on social media, via a text message to his wife and on television.

Mr Burston quit the One Nation party to join the United Australia Party after a breakdown in the politicians’ relationship over supporting the government’s corporate tax cut plans.

The animosity intensified between the trio to the point they had a meeting where they agreed to “try and stay away from each other”, the Federal Court was told on Wednesday.

Ms Hanson’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou SC, asked Mr Burston about a number of text messages dated from June 2018.

“Mr Ashby asks you to stop messaging him and says ‘let’s speak face to face if you want to say something’.”

Another message followed about a front-page article in The Australian, followed by others, with no response, Ms Chrysanthou said.

“Yes,” Mr Burston said.

She said Mr Burston was goading Mr Ashby with media articles, and mocking him about polling in another.

Mr Burston agreed on both accounts, but denied it was a form of harassment.

Following several other messages that Mr Ashby does not respond to, he finally texts back: “F*** off idiot on the wine again are you?”

Mr Ashby also calls him a “traitorous c***”.

These text messages make up part of Mr Burston’s AVO filed against Mr Ashby in March 2019.

Ms Chrysanthou said his proceeding text messages didn’t sound like someone who was being stalked or intimidated by Mr Ashby.

“When someone calls you an old man, old men die, walks up to … Bill Shorten (and says) ‘what are you talking to these ***ing dogs for’, I think that’s intimidation,” Mr Burston said.

Mr Burston’s wife Rosalyn gave evidence on Wednesday about trauma and “attack nightmares” she now suffers after Mr Ashby allegedly tried to aggressively film the pair using his phone following a meeting.

Later she recalled former finance minister Mathias Cormann called for a first aid kit because Mr Burston’s hand was covered in blood.

Her 20-year friendship with Ms Hanson ended when she says false claims of sexual harassment were aimed at her husband during a speech in parliament.

“He was pretty upset I was hugely upset, not because of the allegations but I knew they were all false,” she said.

While he was not named, it was “obviously” about Mr Burston because it named “a married senator”, she said.

Mr Burston has denied suggestions arising from Ms Hanson’s defence, that he told a staffer he was a “softie” for a woman in distress, that she probably needed a “good f***”, or that it’ll be her “best f***” ever.

He also rejected pressing a female staffer to have lunch with him, making comments about “sexy legs”, “perfect” sized breasts, or placing $100 between her breasts.

Mr Burston argues the claims paint him as a sexual harasser, and someone who acted disgracefully and brought the senate into disrepute.

The trial continues.

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